Not only will the coming weekend see the final race of the 2016 MotoGP season at Spain’s Valencia circuit, it will also herald the return of Honda rider Dani Pedrosa, who was injured during practice for the Japanese GP and as a result missed the Australian and Malaysian rounds.
Pedrosa had a difficult start to MotoGP’s new technical era but came on strong in the second half of the season, after making important set-up changes during the post-Czech GP tests at Brno.
He finished just off the podium at the British GP and scored his first victory of 2016 at the subsequent San Marino round. But, just two races later at Motegi he was sidelined by a crash that left him nursing a broken right collarbone, left fibula and toe.
“These past three weeks haven’t been easy because of the pain, especially immediately after the operation, and also because I missed racing at some of my favourite tracks,” he said. “Anyway, after I started with my rehab, things began getting better day-by-day, and the thought of trying to recover in time for Valencia was a boost that helped during the tougher moments.”
This weekend the 31-year-old hopes to be able to return to racing almost fully competitive. Pedrosa scored one of his first GP wins at Valencia – in the 125cc class way back in 2002 – and followed that up with 250cc victories in 2004 and 2005 and MotoGP successes in 2007, 2009 and 2012. Last year he finished third, just a fraction of a second behind teammate Marc Marquez.
“We’re still not sure about how I’ll feel on the bike, but anyway I’m happy to be able to get back to racing! I love the Valencia track, I have fantastic memories here and I like the idea of getting back to action in front of my fans.”